Editor’s take: Renowned audio equipment manufacturer Bose is giving up on augmented reality a little over two years after first announcing the program, failing to commercialize the tech as intended. Bose had a solid idea with its AR audio platform that could still be viable once the tech matures a bit.
Bose announced in early 2018 that it was setting aside $50 million to develop what it called the world’s first audio augmented reality platform. In short, the program aimed to add an extra layer to what you hear. The tech, which would be built into a pair of sunglasses, could describe a painting when visiting a museum or offer turn-by-turn directions when navigating a busy airport courtesy of location-based cues.
When Bose started accepting pre-orders for the product, dubbed Frames, later that year, the company said the AR tech wasn’t yet ready.
In a statement to Protocol this week, a Bose spokesperson said its AR technology didn’t become what they envisioned. “It’s not the first time our technology couldn’t be commercialized the way we planned, but components of it will be used to help Bose owners in a different way. We’re good with that. Because our research is for them, not us.”
It’s the latest setback for the longtime audio equipment maker, which earlier this year announced it would be closing all of its brick-and-mortar retail stores over the coming months as consumers increasingly opt to shop online.
Bose isn’t the only company to struggle to master augmented reality, either. Magic Leap, arguably the leading candidate to deliver the first compelling AR experience, ran into hard times after sales of its debut headset fell way short of expectation. Founder Rony Abovitz recently announced he would be stepping down as CEO, prompting the company to search for a new leader, amid a pivot to focus on enterprise clients.